1. Computer Skills
  2. Apple Photos

How to Do More With Apple's Photos App: Part 3


Apple's Photos is the default photos app for macOS. Photos makes it simple to browse, edit, and manage any growing photo and video library. The powerful editing and organisation tools built into Photos complement the workflow so you can share them instantly.

The third part of this tutorial uncovers tips and tricks related to the Photos app, showing its capabilities and ways you can use it on macOS and iOS devices for greater productivity in managing photos.

For this tutorial, I’ve used a 9.7-inch iPad (2017) with iOS 11.0.3 and a Mac Mini with macOS Sierra 10.12.6. The software will improve as the beta progresses, and features may change towards the final release.

21. Change the Album Thumbnail Cover

When you create an album, Photos uses the oldest photo—called the key photo—as the album’s cover. You can change the key photo to another photo in the album. 

Open the album, primary-click the thumbnail of the photo, and choose Make Key Photo from the context menu. You can’t change the key photo of a smart album or any built-in album such as Last Import.

change album thumbnail cover
Change the album thumbnail cover

22. Sorting Thumbnails in Albums

As you add photos to the albums, they appear in the order in which you added them. But you’re not stuck with that order. To see the photos in chronological order, choose View > Sort > Keep Sorted by Oldest or Newest First. To see the photos in alphabetical order by name, choose View > Sort > Keep Sorted by Title.

If you’d prefer to organize the album manually, drag the photos in any order you like. There’s no way to sort album thumbnails in iOS. If you turned on iCloud Photo Library, the album sort order in iOS matches that for Mac automatically.

sorting thumbnails in albums
Sorting thumbnails in albums

23. Change the Date and Time of a Photo

A photo or video might have the wrong date and time information in the metadata. To fix this, select the photo and choose Image > Adjust Date and Time…. In the dialog box that appears, change the date and time information in the Adjusted field.

If you were shooting in another time zone and want to adjust for that difference, drag the blue pin to a new location on the map or choose a new location from the Closest City menu. 

Click Adjust to make the change.

When you select multiple items, Photos intelligently adjusts the date and time of photos by the same amount that you did for the first photo. For example, if you change the time of the first photo by two hours, they all change by two hours.

change the date and time of a photo
Change the date and time of a photo

Photos for iOS doesn’t let you view or change the date and time of photos. Both Metapho and HashPhotos let you view and change the date and time of multiple photos. They integrate with the Photos app and provide a bunch of useful features.

24. Remove Red-Eye From Photos

Flashes let you take pictures in the dark, but they have the unfortunate side effect of producing red-eye. Photos automatically detects images with red-eye and adds a Red-Eye icon to the Edit pane. Click the Red-Eye icon and click the Auto button. Photos highlights red-eye in the image and removes it.

remove red eye from photos
Remove red-eye from photos

25. Sync Photos Manually With iTunes

You can set up iTunes to sync photos with an iOS device from the Photos app or from a folder on the computer. Each time you sync an iOS device with iTunes, the photos and videos on the iOS device update to match the albums on the computer.

Open iTunes and connect the iOS device with a USB cable. Click the device icon and from the sidebar, click Photos.

connect ios device with the usb cable
Connect iOS device with the device cable

Click the Sync Photos box and choose the app or folder that you want to sync. 

Choose to sync all photos or selected albums. Select Include videos to sync the videos from the app or folder. Click Apply

Note—Live Photos will lose their effect if you sync the device with iTunes. Use the iCloud Photo Library to retain their effect.

sync photos manually with itunes
Sync photos manually with iTunes

26. Edit Photos With Extensions

Third-party apps and extensions can provide powerful features that are beyond the scope of the Photos app. Open the Edit pane in Photos and click the Extensions icon.

click extensions icon in the photos app
Click extensions icon in the Photos app

The Extensions pane of System Preference opens, with the Photos view selected. Check the box next to the extensions you want to enable. In Photos, click the Extensions icon again to pick an enabled extension.

check the extension in system preference pane
Check the extension in the System Preference pane

When you edit a photo in an extension, Photos makes a duplicate copy of the image. Click Save Changes to save the image.

edit photos in pixelmator extension
Edit photos in the Pixelmator extension and click Save Changes

On iOS, open the Photos app and tap a photo. Tap Edit, and then tap the More menu. Select an app from the menu that appears. Edit the photo with the extension’s tools. When you’ve finished with edits, tap Done to exit the edit mode.

edit photos with the ios extension
Edit photos with the iOS extension

When you edit a photo with an extension, you can always start over with the original photo. Open the photo in edit mode, and then click Revert to Original on Mac or tap Revert on iOS

If you use iCloud Photo Library, then any edits you make on device appear on other devices too.

27. Store Optimised Photos to Save Space

Apple always stores photos and videos at full size in iCloud. To save space, it places smaller, optimised versions of the oldest and least-used files on the iOS device. If you like, you can choose to store optimised versions of photos on the Mac.

To store optimised photos on the Mac, choose Photos > Preferences… and in the iCloud pane check Optimize Mac Storage. You won’t see anything instantly, but once the storage space gets tight, Photos replaces the full-size copies with smaller ones.

optimize photo storage on the Mac
Optimize photo storage on the Mac

On iOS, open the Settings app and tap Photos > Optimize iPad Storage. This setting will start working when the space on iOS gets low.

optimize photo storage on the iOS
Optimize Photo Storage on the iOS device 

28. Use Favorites to Find and View Photos

Photos makes it simple to tag a photo or video as a favourite. To favourite a photo, point the cursor at a thumbnail in Moments view and click the heart outline situated at the bottom left. 

The outline turns white, to let you know you’ve favourited a photo. You can also press the full-stop (period) key on the keyboard to tag the photo as a favourite.

click heart icon to add a favorite
Click the heart icon to add a favorite

In Photos for iOS, tap and open the photo, and then tap the blue heart outline at the upper right of the screen. The outline turns solid blue, to let you know you’ve favourited a photo.

tap the heart icon to add favorite
Tap the heart icon to add a favorite in iOS

Repeat any of the above processes to unfavourite a photo. If you don’t see the heart icon, then you have to turn on the setting that lets you see favourites. Choose View > Metadata and check if favourite has a checkmark next to it.

When you favourite a photo, it creates a Favorites album that you can see in Albums view or in the Albums section of the sidebar. In Photos for iOS, go into Albums view and then tap the Favorites album to open it.

29. Use Location to Find and View Photos

When you take pictures with an iOS device, it records the location along with other metadata. Photos for Mac integrates location information into the Photos tab, search field, and the info display.

Photos for Mac lets you add location data to images taken by devices that don’t provide location data or when it’s difficult to retrieve location due to poor connectivity. 

Select an image or images. Press Command-I to open the Info window. Click Assign a Location and type in the address or city, or click the red pin on the map and drag them to the precise location.

add location data to images
Add location data to the images

Now you can search photos by location. 

Click the search field and type in the name of city, address, or nearby landmark. To see all the photos on the map, go to the Albums view and view the Places album, or click the Places section from the sidebar. 

The resulting map displays square image previews along with numbers to indicate the number of photos taken in each location.

places album shows all photos in map
Places album shows all photos in a map

Photos for iOS doesn’t let you view or change the location of photos. Both Metapho and HashPhotos integrate with the Photos app and let you view and add location data.

30. Compare Before and After Edits of a Photo

Once you start making edits to a photo, you might want to peek at before and after versions of your image. That way, you can see how much the picture has hopefully improved. 

To see the before version of an edited photo, press and hold the M key; release the M key to see the after version. At any time, click Revert to Original to restore the original photo.

compare before and after edits of a photo
Compare before and after edits of a photo

31. Batch Process Edits in Photos

You’ve shot and edited a photo with specific settings—contrast, filters, brightness, exposure, and more. You might want to apply the same image adjustments and edits to other photos. 

Double-click on any photo and click Edit. When you’ve finished with edits, press Command-Shift-C or primary-click on the photo and choose Copy Adjustments.

copy image adjustments to a clipboard
Copy image adjustments to a clipboard

Photos copies all the adjustments on the clipboard. Press the right arrow key and move to the next photo. Then press Command-Shift-V or primary-click on the photo again, and choose Paste Adjustments. In this way, you can apply the exact adjustments to multiple photos and save time.

paste adjustments to multiple photos
Paste adjustments to multiple photos

32. View and Edit Metadata in Photos for iOS

Metadata includes any information that identifies a photo on the basis of EXIF, GPS, and TIFF. Photos for iOS doesn’t let you view or edit metadata. Both Metapho and HashPhotos integrate with the Photos app and provide a bunch of metadata-related features.

Select a photo or photos. Tap the Share > Adjust Date/Time button and set a custom date and time. When you’re done, tap Adjust. To change the location, tap Share > Set Location and type in the address or city. When you’ve finished, tap Save.

adjust metadata in hashphotos
Adjust metadata in the HashPhotos app

33. Nest Folders Within Folders in Photos for iOS

It is possible to nest folders within folders in Photos for iOS. Open the Photos app and switch to the Albums view. Long-press the + button, and you’re given the option to create an album or folder. Note—if you tap the + button then your only option is to create an album.

long press plus button to create a folder
Long-press the plus button to create a folder

Once you create a folder, open it, and tap the edit button. Now long-press the + button again to create a second folder within the first folder.

nest folder within folder in photos for ios
Nest a folder within a folder in Photos for iOS


In this part of the tutorial series, I showed you some tips and tricks you can use to improve your workflow with the Photos app. In the next and last part of the tutorial series, I shall show you more tips and tricks to use Photos like a pro.

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